Mark Wahlberg fans across the nation are rejoicing that his latest movie, Lone Survivor, premieres this Friday, January 10. Who doesn’t love a good, patriotic action flick? Yet, the movie and its storyline goes much deeper than celebrating the heroism of our military and paying tribute to those we have lost. Based on Marcus Luttrell’s book of the same name, the plot follows the Navy SEALs who participated in Operation Red Wings, a 2005 mission intended to capture high Taliban leaders in the mountains of Afghanistan.

What the movie doesn’t portray, however, are the combat implications of policy decisions made by those in Washington well-removed from the dangers of the battlefield. According to Luttrell, the real “lone survivor” of Operation Red Wings, American politics have once again interfered with the success and safety of our brave military.

Back in the comfortable meeting rooms of the Capitol, politicians write up the rules of engagement (ROE) for the American military in combat. Naturally, it is the liberal politicians who seek to put tighter restraints on combat rules, while certain Republicans have fought to give our soldiers greater safety. Luttrell explains the restraints in his book:

“And those ROE are very specific: we may not open fire until we are fired upon or have positively identified our enemy and have proof of his intentions. Now, that’s all very gallant. But how about a group of U.S. soldiers who have been on patrol for several days; have been fired upon; have dodged rocket-propelled grenades and homemade bombs; have sustained casualties; and who are very nearly exhausted and maybe slightly scared? How about when a bunch of guys wearing colored towels around their heads and brandishing AK-47s come charging over the horizon straight toward you? Do you wait for them to start killing your team, or do you mow the bastards down before they get a chance to do so?”

Luttrell scorns Washington for being so concerned with the “rights” of terrorists that compromise the safety of Americans willing to put their lives on the line for the freedom of our nation. The fact is, politics should be completely left out of combat rules. If we are in a war, our military should have the right to properly defend itself. Unfortunately, liberalism seems to misdirect the priorities of Congress, and as a result, Luttrell says “from firsthand experience that those rules of engagement cost the lives of three of the finest U.S. Navy SEALs who have ever served.”

In addition to the ridiculous rules of engagement, the liberal media at home continues to attack American defense by whining about the torture and cruel treatment of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay. Reality is, those detainees are there for a serious reason, and they are treated far more fairly and humanely than the media dramatizations would suggest. They either directly or indirectly participated in terrorist attacks potentially compromising the safety and security of the United States. And while American citizens praise President Obama for finally killing Osama bin Laden, the man responsible for the 9/11 attacks, they ignore the fact that waterboarding was crucial in providing the information leading to his death.

To me, and certainly to Marcus Luttrell, sympathy is absolutely out of the question for extremists whose main goal in life is to destroy America. Terrorists understand the impact of the liberal media on politics and they use it against us. They are well aware of the ROE, and this gives them the advantage in attacks. Detainees at Guantanamo Bay understand that if they reach out to the media, crying of their inhumane treatment, they are that much closer to receiving little to no punishment for their inhumane actions.

It is terrifying that we live in a world where citizens of our home country are more concerned about the comfort of terrorists than the safety and security of our military men and women and our nation at large. Politics are unruly, and they will always interfere with progress, but both the Democrats and Republicans in Congress should be smart enough to keep politics from adversely affecting the survival of our soldiers.

As a closing note, I’d like to thank Marcus Luttrell for his bravery, as well as all of our military men and women who have served and continue to serve today. Though words cannot do them justice, I must also pay tribute to the fine men and women who have died in battle, in particular those lost in Operation Red Wings. I pray their souls are at rest and that their loved ones understand that they will always have support from me and many other grateful Americans.


Elizabeth Marcello | William & Mary | @eliz_mariah